GAO Report Urges Clarification on VHA, DoD Drug Transition Policy

Some Groups Have Called for Unified Formulary

By Sandra Basu

WASHINGTON Last year, a new policy instructed VHA providers not to discontinue mental health medications initiated by DoD providers due to formulary differences.

Now, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report says that VHA needs to clarify which types of medications are covered by that 2015 policy. instructing.

“Because VHA’s policy lacks clarity, VHA providers may be inappropriately discontinuing mental health medications due to formulary differences, which could increase the risk of adverse health effects for transitioning servicemembers,” the report states.

GAO further explains that VHA providers it interviewed “had varying interpretations of which medications are covered by this policy, and VHA officials acknowledged that the definition of a mental health medication could be subjective.”


The findings were contained in a GAO review conducted from May 2015 to December 2015 to assess medication continuation for troops with PTSD or TBI transitioning from DoD to VHA.

The issue of medication continuation for transitioning troops has been a concern among lawmakers, and advocacy groups worried that, because of differing formularies at VHA and DoD, patients are having effective medications discontinued.

Last year, the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC) assessment concluded that DoD and VA needed to create a uniform formulary to include all the drugs identified as critical “for transition beginning immediately with the pain and psychiatric classes of drugs.”

A bill signed into law last November mandates that, as of June this year, both DoD and VA department pharmacies must stock the same medications to treat pain, sleep and psychiatric disorders.

>>Next Page

1 2 3

Share Your Thoughts